Cllr Anita Lower named as Liberal Democrat challenger for Newcastle North parliamentary constituency at May's General Election
By Greg Stone
Newcastle Liberal Democrats have announced that the party's leader and Leader of the Opposition on Newcastle City Council, Cllr Anita Lower, will challenge Newcastle North MP Catherine McKinnell at the forthcoming General Election.
Cllr Lower has been a popular and prominent city councillor for more than 20 years, representing Castle ward (which includes Kingston Park, the Great Park, Dinnington, Hazlerigg, and Brunswick Village) on the city council.
Prior to 2011 she was the council's deputy leader and oversaw significant improvements on modernisation of the city council's customer services, and has led efforts to secure investment in local projects including a promise of Government support for new buildings at Dinnington First School earlier this month. She also has particular experience and expertise relating to policing, community safety, and reducing anti social behaviour, and has a national profile on licensing issues as a spokesperson for the Local Government Association.
Anita has lived in Newcastle all her life, having attended La Sagesse school and helped at her father's family business in the Grainger Market, before becoming a systems analyst. She is married with a grown-up son and daughter, and lives in the Etal Lane area of the city (Meadow Rise).
Cllr Lower is the second female candidate to stand for the Lib Dems in Newcastle at this election, following the re-selection of Dr Wendy Taylor in Newcastle East, and is the first female Lib Dem candidate to stand in Newcastle North.
"I am greatly looking forward to contesting my home constituency of Newcastle North, where the Lib Dems reduced Labour's majority to just 3414 in 2010. I will be campaigning on the strong local record of the Lib Dems over many years in Gosforth and other Lib Dem held wards in the constituency, and I will be reminding third-placed Conservative voters that only the Lib Dems can beat Labour here.
"I believe the major issue facing Newcastle North at this election will be to secure the long term economic growth which has seen a significant rise in employment and apprenticeships since 2010. The challenge at this election is to ensure it brings further improvements to the cost of living, such as the Lib Dem policies of an £800 income tax reduction taking thousands of lower paid people out of tax, free school meals for under 7s, and universal pension increases. Like many people I am unconvinced that Ed Miliband and Ed Balls can be trusted with the economy given their record .
I will also campaign to ensure that any additional housing development in the Outer West of the city is sustainable and does not irrevocably damage the Green Belt. As a Castle ward councillor I have led representations against the Labour council's controversial Core Strategy and know from first hand experience that further development will place even greater pressure on the city's north west suburbs and infrastructure like roads, schools, and health facilities.
I have a proven record of representing local residents and communities in Newcastle North and I look forward to the opportunity to represent Newcastle North at Westminster."